Time to file charges

Statute of Limitations

If you were charged with a crime in Florida, the Statute of Limitations law requires the State Attorney’s Office to prosecute you within a specific number of years or the case must be dismissed.

  • Capital Felony, life felony or felony resulting in death – any time
  • First Degree Felony – Four years
  • Any other Felony – Three years
  • First Degree Misdemeanor – Two years
  • Second Degree Misdemeanor – One year

A Florida warrant never goes away – we’ve handled cases in New Port Richey, Clearwater, and Tampa, that were over 20 years old. (None of this applies to a probation warrant – there is no statute of limitations with those)

Time to file charges

The tricky part is determining when the statute of  limitations clock starts to run.  Normally, it starts after every element of the offense is committed.  However:

  • If you were arrested or issued a summons, the time commences when the State Attorney’s Office files an indictment, information or other charging document.
  • If you were not previously arrested, the time commences when an indictment of information is filed “provided that the capias (warrant), summons or other process issued on such indictment or information is executed without unreasonable delay.”

That means that if you were not arrested, but the State filed a charge against you, the police have to prove that they actually tried to serve you with a warrant (capias).  To prove that, the Court can look at:

  • Inability to locate the Defendant after diligent search
  • Defendant’s absence from the state

So if you  commit a Grand Theft from Walmart and happen to move to California the next week, the State Attorney’s Office might charge you while you are gone.  Then, if the police go to your last known address and your roommate tells them you moved to California, that might be considered a diligent search for you.  However, if the police later pull up your out of state driver’s license and confirm your new address, that would probably be considered a diligent search.  IF YOU ARE CONTINUALLY OUT OF STATE, AND THEY TRIED TO LOOK FOR YOU – THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS PERIOD TOLLS –

THAT MEANS IF THEY TRIED TO LOOK FOR YOU AND YOUR WEREN’T THERE AND THEY CAN PROVE YOU MOVED OUT OF STATE – THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS DOESN’T APPLY. 

A typical scenario we deal with is when an individual is arrested out of State but the Florida law enforcement agency chooses not to extradite.  The person is released, but that scenario can repeat itself.  Even worse is that the statute states:

  • Failure to extradite a defendant from another state does not constitute unreasonable delay
  • The period of limitations does not run during the time a defendant is continuously out of state or has no reasonable ascertainable place of abode or work within the state

Call us today to find out if you have an outstanding warrant and your case might be dismissed based on a Statute of Limitations defense.